Tuesday, May 31, 2005

THE WORLD THROUGH MY EYES – Trying To Get Off The Ground

Enriching the lives of Mozambican children is the object of The World Through My Eyes .

In the first phase of The World Through My Eyes, children were provided photographic equipment and taught basic photography to see if they had the aptitude to excel. At the end of that program, after these children had produced their own photography portfolios, they received a program certificate, ten of their photos in an album and a photo CD. The first phase proved that photography is of value and interest to Mozambicans and was well received both by those who partook in the project and those who attended the two gallery showings.

The long-term goal of The World Through My Eyes is to create a permanent photography school for young Mozambicans. At the present time, photography is not being taught at Mozambique's journalism institute. And less than twenty people study at the Center for the Formation of Photographers, the only photography school in Mozambique annually.

The founder and Project Leader is an American from Portland, Oregon, Blake H. Schmidt who served in the Peace Corps from 2001 to 2003 and was teaching English at the Agrarian School of Chókwè when he became involved with The World Through My Eyes.

As a published photographer and having experience in freelance photography as well as teaching photography to children Blake was well suited to lead this project.

According to The World Through My Eyes website, Blake is currently in Portland, Oregon promoting the project, searching for funding and looking into possibly partnering with an existing group or NGO in the States or Mozambique."

"The South West Community Connection," a Portland, Oregon community newspaper stated:

"While in Mozambique, Schmidt was inspired by an article he read about Fotokids, a nonprofit that teaches photography in Guatemala and Honduras. He partnered with Marcílio Nhampossa, a friend from Chókwè and secured a grant from the U.S. Embassy in Maputo, Mozambique."

After his Peace Corps service ended Schmidt along with Chókwè launched a pilot project intended to last four months.

The U.S. Embassy in Maputo, Mozambique helped fund this first phase of the project, which was completed in April 2004.

The Professional Photographers of America has also published a story about The World Through My Eyes in their monthly magazine, Professional Photographer. Both the article from The South West Community Connection and the Article from the Professional Photographer can be accessed from The World Through My Eyes' web site.

Marcílio Nhampossa is the Project Assistant. While Blake is back in the U.S. Nhampossa is in Chókwè still teaching primary school and studying at night. The organization's web site says that he is "taking computer courses to become more knowledgeable and proficient with computers." After he finishes his computer studies, he will work with the children on the weekends to keep their skills sharp while they anxiously await the opportunity to continue the project.

In the meantime, The World Through My Eyes is under the non-profit umbrella of Perception, Inc. a 501(c)(3) organization in the U.S. They are soliciting donations and have made copies of the children's photographs available for sale at their web site.

The World Through My Eyes has a long way to go in its efforts to enrich the lives of Mozambican children through photography. But what has been done to date inspires confidence that they will get there some day.

It's well worth a look to go by their web site and look at the photographs the children have taken. And consider making a purchase, if you are so inspired.

The World Through My Eyes can be found at:

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